8 Major Cacao Farming Activities
Cacao is one of the tropical crops and is the main ingredient for chocolates and other cocoa products. Tropical countries such as Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ecuador, Cameroon, Brazil, and Indonesia are the top cacao-producing countries.
Before you decide to invest in cacao farming, there are factors you need to consider first. Let’s discuss these significant considerations.
1. Finding Suitable Area
A temperate climate, an elevation of 300 meters to 1,200 meters above sea level, and evenly distributed rain throughout the year are the optimal consideration in selecting an area for cacao farming.
2. Selecting Quality Planting Materials
Selecting quality planting materials is the first step of a productive tree and quality cacao fruits. You can choose to produce your planting materials in a nursery or source them out from accredited nurseries. Seedling of six months old is ready for planting. You should also consider the cultivar to be planted: the Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario. A particular variety would have different considerations for seedlings and maintenance.
Staking is necessary to have a proper distance from each tree when mature. The recommended distance is 3 x 3 meters. With this recommended distance, the average density per hectare is 1,100 trees. It is good to plant at the start of a rainy season for the seedlings to flourish quickly.
4. Tree Care/Maintenance
Proper care and maintenance are needed to have healthy trees to produce flowers and healthy fruits. It takes two years from planting to flowering, then another year from flowering to harvesting. Apply fertilizers to produce higher yields. Then apply pesticides when necessary to eliminate pests and diseases. Pod sleeving is done to the small fruits to avoid pests and diseases.
Ripe fruits turn into yellow or red, which are then harvested individually using secateurs. Picked fruits are cut open either in the field or in the production area. After opening, the beans are removed from the pod.
The beans are fermented to remove the mucilage and improve the taste. Fermentation boxes are needed during the process. After two days, the beans are transferred from the first boxes to the next. Beans should not stay for a long time in the same boxes.
After fermentation, the beans are then transferred to the drying facilities. Drying facilities are either a mechanical dryer or a solar dryer. You will need fuel to run the mechanical dryer. Sun dryers are elevated sun dryer boxes with/out top plastic coverings. Or you can also have both to assure proper drying even during rainy seasons.
8. Sorting, Sacking, Delivery/Storing
Broken and discolored beans should be removed. Good quality beans are then sacked, delivered, or stored. Dried beans should be put on an elevated platform to prevent molding.
After knowing the activities to be done for cacao bean production, you will now have an idea of how cacao farming works, from finding a suitable location to delivery/storing the dried cacao beans.